4. Mr. Peter Lilley (Hitchin and Harpenden): If he will make a statement on how he intends to improve the involvement of local communities in planning decisions. 
The Deputy Prime Minister (Mr. John Prescott): The Planning and Compulsory Purchase Bill will, subject to parliamentary approval, require all local planning authorities to produce a statement of community involvement setting out what the authority will do to involve the community in preparing local development documents and in their consideration of planning applications.
In addition, we will provide Planning Aid with significant funding over the next three years to enable it to become more proactive and to develop a greater role in targeting communities that traditionally do not get involved in the planning system.
Mr. Lilley : How can the Deputy Prime Minister explain his decision to take out of the hands of elected county and district councils in Hertfordshire and North Hertfordshire key decisions about housing, especially as he previously justified the approval of a plan to build 10,000 houses on the green belt on the grounds that the decision was endorsed by the elected Labour party that was then in power and that there were no other sites? Now a Conservative group has taken power and found alternative sites, so why is the right hon. Gentleman overriding local democracy, and why he is determined to concrete over the green belt?
The Deputy Prime Minister: The right hon. Gentleman‘s recollection of that application is somewhat limited. He will know that we do not make a judgment according to whether a Labour or Tory council has made the decision; we have planning inspectors to make independent judgments. They made that recommendation, and I accepted it.
Oral Parliamentary Question -Hansard